GALLERY SIX: BLAKE'S ILLUSTRATIONS TO 'THE GRAVE'
If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
presumeably edited from Blake's own descriptions.
descent into the Vale of Death, to his admission into Life eternal, is
exhibited. These Designs, detached from the Work they embellish, form
of themselves a most interesting Poem.
REDISCOVERY OF THE DESIGNS !
Only 12 of Blake's 19 designs were engraved. The originals were kept by Cromek and auctioned in Edinburgh by his widow in 1836 for one pound five shillings. Then they disappeared into private hands until 2002 when they were presented to specialist book auctioneer Dominic Winter in Wiltshire. After being authenticated by several experts they are currently valued at about a million pounds. As you can see by comparison with above, the engravings are very faithful to the originals, though purists regret a few lost details.
Not the least wonderful thing about Blake and his life was the manner of his leaving it in 1827, much as he had pictured it in the 'Good Man' above and elsewhere - though it must be said that Blake's own attitude towards death was very different from the overall tone of Blair's poem. For him it was more of an adventure, a plunge into light rather the dark. So confident was he of his visions that he seemed almost eager to enter fully into them, regretting only separation from his wife Katherine. Here's how Allan Cunningham described his final days in Lives of the most eminent British Painters, Sculptors and Architects (John Murray, London 1830):
As Blake died almost destitute, his young friend and occasional patron John Linnell took Katherine on as a housekeeper, also taking charge of all his unsold works. Linnell, incidentally, is the one who commissioned Blake's masterpiece engravings for The Book of Job, which astonished even his critics at the time because of his mastery of the medium.
GALLERY FIVE . . . . . . . . FOYER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .